Want to make a difference in the lives of Israeli teens? Consider joining Israel Connect, a program where local adult volunteers connect online, one-on-one, via Zoom, with Israeli high school students who want to improve their English conversation and reading skills. The program starts on Oct. 23 and is organized by Chabad Richmond, in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Education. It entails a small and rewarding commitment of 45 minutes once a week.
There are currently 15 local volunteers participating in the Israel Connect program as tutors/mentors, and Chabad Richmond is looking to increase that number, since the need continues to grow.
“We’re looking for volunteer retirees, seniors or any adults with flexible schedules to join the Israel Connect program. No previous tutoring or teaching experience is necessary and the curriculum is provided for tutors/mentors,” said Shelley Civkin, local program coordinator. “If you’re an adult and a fluent English speaker, you have basic computer skills and you own a computer with a camera, that’s pretty much all you need. Oh, and, of course, a strong desire to help Israeli youth.”
Volunteers do not need to speak Hebrew and can tutor from home. Basic training and technical support are available.
Time preferences of volunteer tutors/mentors will be coordinated beforehand and sessions take place in the morning between 7 and 11 a.m. Vancouver time, any day between Sunday to Thursday. “All Israel Connect asks is a minimum commitment of one school year, in order to ensure consistency for the students,” said Civkin.
“It’s a meaningful and practical way for community members to support Israel and build bridges between diaspora Jews and Israelis,” said Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman of Chabad Richmond. “You’ll be doing a mitzvah, while investing in Israel and its young people. Plus, good English skills will give them an advantage in accessing post-secondary education and getting better jobs. English proficiency is crucial to Israeli students, since it accounts for a third of their entrance exam marks for university.”
“Partnering with the Israeli Ministry of Education, the Israel Connect program targets teens from less advantaged neighbourhoods in Israel. Most volunteers really enjoy helping their Israeli students and develop a lasting bond with them. It often goes beyond simply tutoring the curriculum, and turns into friendship and mentorship,” added Civkin. “Conversations sometimes continue long after the school year is over. This kind of one-on-one tutoring makes a huge difference in their lives, both educationally and personally…. Estimating the impact of this program on Israeli youth is, of course, speculative, but we do know for certain that it helps improve their school grades. It’s incredibly satisfying to know that you’re doing something concrete to help Israeli students better their lives.”
The curriculum consists mainly of a tour of Israel, focusing on the wealth of historically, culturally and biblically significant cities and sites. It’s not uncommon for both the students and the tutors to learn something new about Israel at each lesson.
To volunteer, or for more information, contact Deborah Freedman at Chabad Richmond, 604-277-6427, or email [email protected].
For anyone who can’t participate as a tutor, Chabad Richmond welcomes financial support for the Israel Connect program, which covers overhead costs like technical support, staffing and other administrative costs. To support the program call Chabad Richmond or email [email protected].
– Courtesy Chabad Richmond